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Post-stop fundamental frequency perturbation in production and perception of Mandarin stop voicing Lo, Yu-Hsiang


This dissertation examines how Mandarin-dominant Mandarin-English bilinguals use post-stop fundamental frequency (F0) in the production and perception of the stop voicing contrast in Mandarin and English. Their use of post-stop F0 is then compared with that of native English speakers. Additionally, the influence of cognitive load on the use of post-stop F0 is investigated. Along with cross-linguistic differences in the use of post-stop F0, this work foregrounds variability within participants and explores the production-perception interface on an individual level. A corpus study and a set of parallel online production and perception experiments were devised. The results from the corpus study indicated that post-stop F0 following aspirated stops was lower than that following unaspirated stops in Mandarin. However, the data from the production experiment, in which the bilinguals read aloud words typifying the voicing contrast in stops, suggested the opposite pattern in both Mandarin and English. Furthermore, the post-stop F0 difference in English was larger as compared to Mandarin, indicating that more production weight was assigned to post-stop F0 in English than in Mandarin. The data from the perception experiment, which featured a forced-choice task, showed that the bilinguals used post-stop F0 as a cue in perceiving stops in both English and Mandarin, with higher post-stop F0 leading to more aspirated/voiceless responses, but they allocated more weight to post-stop F0 when the audio stimuli were presented as English words than as Mandarin words. When the bilinguals' post-stop F0 weights for English were compared with those of native English speakers, however, an asymmetry was revealed: even though both groups shared similar production weights, English listeners still had a higher perceptual weight than the bilinguals. With respect to cognitive load, which was induced by a concurrent visual search task, it seemed to introduce more variability to the perceptual weights, but only for English listeners. Overall, these results argue for a dual function of F0 in cueing phonological voicing in stops and tones across modalities in Mandarin. Furthermore, they suggest a dynamic nature of the post-stop F0 cue, which adapts to different language contexts, though this adaptability is constrained by the first language.

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